A week of not breathing, consuming a lot of information and 1/4 of a cake, crashing (happily) into lots of wonderful people, heartfelt talks that sometimes got a little too heated for any real ideas to be born, and I’m not ready for a weekend of relaxation. When a physical to-do list is as long as the other list you make in your head that tells you that you’re never going to see the end, burnout is inevitable. It always is – at least for me – quite spectacular.
As it usually goes with overwhelming times, I retreat. We were promised a week of personality-exploding sunshine and it was delivered. Everybody was happy. They said so with their brightly-printed clothing choices and general willingness to have more of a conversation instead of hurrying away from the rain. Right now, it’s raining…a bit. I can hear duck babies (SPRING!) outside and how the heck did the clock just strike 11 pm?! Days go by too fast. Catching up seems impossible.
Maybe I should stop trying. I gained so much since the last time we spoke. Not enlightenment, but ideas….that I feel strange sharing on my half brain-half food blog. I volunteered at Ladies Rock Camp for the second time and I never, ever come back from there as the same person. Let’s just say I will no longer respond with anger to a system that has been in place since the beginning of time. It’s a simple question: Do you believe women should have rights that are equal to what a man enjoys? If you say yes, then HEY! You’re a feminist. No matter what you identify as. I hardly know much of this struggle but I will call you out if you resort to archaic ideas of describing people and situations. We’re much more empowered with ideas today and I feel very grateful that I have a strong female community to go back to every time I need to be sat down in a spinning chair and have my mind blown.
Oh! I can’t forget my country has a new Prime Minister and news flash: He’s a mass murderer. These are my views and maybe if I was in India, I’d have this post taken down. If you’re in the US, the country from where I write this, you probably don’t care considering the news media here is still infatuated with Conservative V/s Liberal. I wrote a piece for a Seattle-based news blog so if you want to know more about the world’s largest democracy, this is where you can go. From the stand point of food, this election is everything. The last government allowed the entry of the crazies like Wal Mart and Tesco, and you know how amazing that always is for the small farmer. This to-be Prime Minister shouted his development plans for the country and maybe that was how he won. I just don’t see anything realistic about development when Wal Mart is in the same sentence. Meanwhile, our farmers are still killing themselves over the inability to pay back the smallest of small loans (If you measure the cost in dollars) after failed crops. I have this idea of starting a website to crowd source money directly to these farm families. I know I would need to do a lot of ground survey work because people won’t just put money into something invisible. If you know someone who is already doing this, please direct me to them. I would love to help. If not, this is my seed of an idea. Consider sharing it. I am not the most intelligent person if you stick me in a classroom full of people studying social policy but I feel it’s okay to have an idea.
This weather update from 40 minutes ago is brought to you by Matt’s inherited Westminster-chiming clock: I just saw sun.
So I’ll take that as a sign that this day is precious. For some it might be painful but oh these times, they just don’t wait around for us.
“…Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
– an excerpt from Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
I knew I wanted to try socca as soon as I saw it as a part of this recipe. It’s so easy so why not? I can answer that. I had a big bag of besan (chickpea flour) in the kitchen which I had used only once in an attempt to make khandvi. That was a big mistake. First of all, I was warned how insane such an act would be and second of all, it tasted so chickpea-y flour-y. That’s supposed to be a good thing, I know. But I’ve eaten plenty of bhajji and pakodas to know that this was a very foreign-tasting chickpea flour. I wanted to work it out between us and so I did. With lemon. Chickpea flour and I have been good friends since then. The toppings were courtesy a fridge clean-up.
For the socca
Adapted from Dolly and Oatmeal
- 1/2 cup (75 gm) chickpea flour/ besan
- 1/2 cup warm water
- A pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil + a tsp more to coat a skillet
For the walnut pesto
- 113 gm fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 4-6 garlic cloves, depending of their size (4 for large and 6 if they’re small)
- 1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1/8 cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt to taste
For the vegetable toppings
- 1 medium crown broccoli, chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 1 whole green onion/scallion, chopped into rounds
- A handful of fresh herbs like thyme, oregano and chives, (a tbsp of each, if I was guessing)
- A squeeze of lemon juice
Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F and lightly coat the bottom of a 9-inch cast iron skillet with some olive oil. In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the socca. Break down all the flour lumps and let it sit for 30 minutes.
In a food processor, add the basil leaves and cheese and let them blend on a high-speed. Turn off the machine and use a spatula to guide the leaves that stick to the side, back to where the blades are. Turn the processor back on and add the garlic, walnuts and olive oil (<in a thin stream) to the almost pesto. If you feel like you need more olive oil, add it one tablespoon at a time. Let it all blend into a smooth paste and then set it aside.
Once the oven is sufficiently heated, place the cast-iron skillet on a rack in the middle for about 5-7 minutes. Pull it out of the oven (safely. The handle will be hot), give the chickpea flour mix one last big stir and pour it into the skillet. Use the handle to spread it all around, until it’s one large, yellow pancake. Put it in the oven for 8 minutes and let it cook on the bottom. Pull out the skillet and using a high heat-safe spatula, carefully flip over the socca. You’ll know it’s ready when it pulls away from the edge of the skillet. Put the skillet back in the oven for two more minutes and it’s done.
This step can be done while the socca is in the oven. Chop about 1/2 cup to a cup of broccoli into small pieces and steam it along with the peas. Cut up the green onions, chives and de-leaf (is that a word? It is now) the thyme and oregano so it’s ready to go on the perfect finger food.
Now back to the socca, place it on a serving plate and spread a generous amount of pesto on the top. Add the broccoli, peas and green onions and sprinkle with fresh herbs. Squeeze a little bit of lemon juice on the top and serve warm.
Happiest of eating times!
(Note: You will have more pesto than this recipe requires, which I promise, is a very good thing. Use it on eggs, sandwiches and on pasta. It also freezes well, if your self-control allows you to let it stay around that long.)